Bleeding the Black Ink

Of opinions, feathers, forums and water coolers

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If you noticed in the Aug. 27 edition's Opinion Page, page 4, to be exact, you would have read a rousing debate regarding the county's budget situation and how it came to be in the straits it is in.

Craig resident and former Moffat County Commission candidate Jean Stetson to the newspaper to task after it took the Moffat County Commission to task over current and past budget troubles.

Craig resident Stan Hathhorn, in the same edition, cited various documents approved by county commissioners that were supposed to hold financials to certain levels so the $600,000 deficit the county is currently wrestling might not have occurred in the first place.

As much as the Craig Daily Press would like to take credit for sponsoring a point/counter point forum, these viewpoints just coincidentally occurred at the same time and make a great package for readers that might be reflections of conversations going on around various water coolers.

Another letter on that very same page was from retired District Wildlife Manager Charles Brown regarding comments made by Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton. Hampton, a rancher, spoke out at a meeting saying "I'm going to buy a backhoe because if I shoot one (a wolf) in the winter, I can't dig fast enough by hand."

Brown said he wasn't sure in what context the county commissioner was making his comments but Brown did point out that shooting an endangered species, such as a wolf, is against the law.

My point in this column is to provide these examples as good use of this page. We want to hear from you. We want to hear what you are discussing around your office water cooler. Because, in a sense, page 4 of every edition of the Craig Daily Press, is the communitiy's water cooler.

While we top off discussion regarding local issues that are going on in Moffat County, the newspaper doesn't purport to be the be-all/end-all expert on every issue.

The editorials on these pages, while giving a glimpse of how the newspaper thinks about an issue, should not be seen as a final word.

"You know I read your editorial and I don't think you represent even half of the people who live in Moffat County," one caller said.

"Fine," I said. "We would be more than happy to run an editorial explaining your position on the matter."

The frustrating thing is that, for the most part, the caller steams, throws out a few choice words, and I never get a letter from them.

"Oh, I'd write one but you don't seem to know the politics around here," another caller says. "If I wrote that with my name on it, there might be repercussions. It might ruffle a few feathers."

And there might be ruffled feathers.

But those repercussions might not be the most obvious. You might actually get people thinking about an issue in a different way or at least they might get a better understanding of the opposition and therefore allow a little respect and tolerance for each other to foster and grow.

Instead of an unending cycle of taking potshots at each other, two sides might learn that they have more in common than they thought and build upon the positives rather than leaving the negatives to fester.

That's what page 4 is all about -- delving into issues that impact our every day lives.

While we would like to hold most letters to 300 words so we can get more local voices in -- the Gettysburg Address is actually about 280 words -- we do make exceptions from time to time and run those pieces as guest columns with the writer's mug shot.

We run "thank-you" notes but also in the name of space we ask that you keep the listing of names -- people or businesses -- to a maximum of 10.

Your full name also must appear at the end of your letter. We also ask for a telephone number to verify the author, though these numbers are never published.

For those of you who would rather make anonymous comments, you can always register at our Reader Forum at craigdailypress.com.

"Bleeding the Black Ink" is a weekly column that aims at getting readers better acquainted with the Craig Daily Press, the First Amendment and the newspaper industry. Do you have a question or an issue for an upcoming column? Call Terrance Vestal at 824-7031 or email him at tvestal@craigdailypress.com.

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